The country’s weekly COVID-19 positivity rate increased to 6.8 percent, as six regions recorded rates higher than 5 percent, the Department of Health (DOH) reported Wednesday.
The National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila reported the highest positivity rate of 9.3 percent as of July 3, meaning that 93 people among every 1,000 tested were found positive for COVID-19.
Other regions that surpassed the 5 percent benchmark of the World Health Organization (WHO) were Calabarzon with 8.4 percent, Western Visayas with 7.1 percent, Mimaropa with 6.4 percent, Cordillera Administrative Region with 5.5 percent, and Central Luzon with 5.4 percent.
The DOH als reported that the national case trend showed a “continuous increase” of COVID-19 infections in 91 percent of provinces and cities, which averaged 1,103 cases per day from June 28 to July 4, 2022.
“Most areas show sharp increase in cases, with the NCR showing the steepest increase, now exceeding 500 cases per day,” it added.
The DOH said that Mindanao also showed a “slight uptick” in COVID-19 infections in mid-June 2022, but is now showing signs of plateauing with more than 50 cases per day.
Despite this, DOH said the Philippines and all regions remain at a low risk case classification with their average daily attack rates also at low risk.
The health care utilization rates are also still at low risk in all regions and the increase in COVID-19 infections have not yet translated to a rise in severe and critical hospital admissions across, the DOH added.
The Philippines on Tuesday recorded 832 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the active infections to 10,032.
On Tuesday, the DOH also reported that more Omicron COVID-19 subvariant cases were detected in the latest whole genome sequencing.
According to the report, 43 BA.5 cases, 20 BA.2.12.1 cases, and seven BA.4 cases were detected from 211 samples sequenced from June 29 to July 4, 2022.
The DOH also said in total, there were 190 cases testing positive for the Omicron and all of its sublineages with 90.5 percent, while 21 samples have no lineage assigned.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday likened the more transmissible Omicron variant to a flu, saying that it does not hit as hard as compared to other variants.
Marcos said the country still has the capacity to manage the new COVID-19 infections.
He also said Omicron-infected individuals are usually down for about two to three days only, in contrast with earlier variants such as Alpha and Delta.
Marcos on Wednesday agreed to require Filipinos to get booster shots after meeting with some officials of the Department of Health (DOH) in preparation for the full conduct of face-to-face classes by November.
The President said that the people need to get the booster shots to have stronger immunity against Omicron subvariants in the country.
The DOH officials who attended the meeting were Health Undersecretaries Lilibeth C. David, Ma. Carolina Vidal-Taiño, Abdullah B. Dumama, Jr., Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire, and Assistant Secretary Maylene M. Beltran.
During the meeting, the DOH advised the President of the need to increase the protection of the population against the Omicron subvariants, especially students who are ready to go back to school this September.
“This is going to be very important especially in preparation for school in the coming semester. The plan of VP Sara [Duterte] is to have a complete face-to-face,” he said.
Marcos directed the DOH to enhance their information campaign and extensively explain to the people the importance of having a booster shot.
The President also instructed the DOH to increase the administration of booster shots by October before the planned full implementation of face-to-face classes in November.
The DOH on Wednesday supported the President’s statement that the more transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant may be “a little contagious but does not hit as hard” as other variants, saying it is supported by data.
The DOH statement was made after Marcos on Tuesday likened Omicron to a flu, amid the rising COVID-19 infections in the country in the past weeks.
“The COVID-19 Omicron variant, though transmissible, does not result in more severe and critical cases compared to other variants. Data do support the President’s observation,” the DOH said in a statement.
The DOH explained that only 3.09 percent of Omicron cases recorded in the country from December 2021 to February 2022 were severe or critical conditions.
It said such a figure was less than half of the observed severe and critical cases for the Delta variant recorded from August to October 2021, which was at 8.72 percent, and the Alpha variant cases recorded March to May 2021 at 6.22 percent.
“Only 1.8 percent of Omicron cases became fatalities, versus 5.55 percent among Alpha and 4.9 percent among Delta,” the DOH said, noting that the two-month period for each variant of concern covered their peak of infections.